Thursday, January 8, 2009


There is one upside to all the advertising disappearing from newspapers……Consumers can now really see what they are paying for.

Opps, that’s a BIG downside.

With the effects of economic downturn clearly hitting retailers everywhere, they have slashed their advertising budgets and are advertising as little as possible. For the first time in my lifetime it means you can turn several pages in many newspapers without seeing an advertisement. When I read the Boston Globe on Tuesday (January 7), it essentially had 2 pages of ads in the 10-page A section, 3 pages of ads in the 16-page B section, and 1 page in the 8-page C section. It had no ads on page 1 (although it has been announced they will start doing so soon) and the daily classified section is no longer being published on weekdays. What was left was editorial content. Unfortunately, what was there wasn’t pretty.

In reading the paper I realized that about half the stories were from news agencies and services and that I had read many of them day before on Yahoo! News and the New York Times and Washington Post websites. A number of the paper’s local stories were on the site or other Boston sites before they appeared in print. I am an avid news consumer and love the paper format, but the paucity of original and novel content left me wonder “Why am I still paying for the paper, especially when I have to call at least once a week because of delivery problems.”

I single out the Globe here, but the problem is everywhere I look at newspapers.

Publishers and editors just don’t get it. They have to stop pining that the old days were better and they have to stop blaming everything and everyone but themselves for the lack of value in their papers. What readers need—if they are going to keep buying papers—is content and an experience with news that they cannot get elsewhere. It has to be BETTER than that on TV, Internet, and mobile applications; it has to DIFFERENT than what they get from those sources; and it has to be news for those who LOVE news.

If editors and publishers don’t start delivering those qualities, they will soon have to stop delivering papers altogether.